This wasn’t exactly the Academy Awards, joked The Battery Show award announcer Ken Yeager, who is on the California Air Resources Board.
But a SAFT executive said when he went on stage, that he was the Meryl Streep of the show, because SAFT took home two awards for Green Innovation of the Year and Battery Manufacturer of the Year in the lithium-ion category.
At the show, there’s been a lot of talk about lithium-ion batteries, although this is hardly surprising. The most immediate use of the batteries is in electric vehicles.
The recent push for more electric vehicles on the road have increased the demand for lithium-ion batteries. As consumers begin to buy more electric vehicles and the cost of the batteries go down, many invested in the industry expect this to be a main driver for growth.
However, there are all sorts of batteries out there, including custom-made batteries for wind turbines and nickel metal hydride and lead acid batteries. Both long-time chemical industry folks and startups received awards for their accomplishments this year.
Here are the winners:
The winner of Green Innovation of The Year and Battery Manufacturer of the Year -- Lithium-Ion was SAFT.
SAFT won for their Jacksonville lithium-ion plant. The plant will build advanced Li-ion cells and batteries for military hybrid vehicles, aviation, smart grid support, broadband back-up, and energy storage for renewable energy. In another project, the company is working on storing renewable energy sources through the Sol ion project.
Industry Supplier of the Year -- Manufacturing was MEGTEC Systems. The company's processes can cut the cost of electrode manufacturing in half. You need electrodes for lithium-ion batteries and the MEGTEC system lets manufactures mix their unique blend of additives and raw materials together.
“We are supplying advanced coating lines for the production of electrodes for Li-ion batteries. The differentiating factor for us is that our equipment runs faster, with wider foils, and can coat the top and bottom of the electrode simultaneously. This improves productivity and reduces capital costs substantially,” said Mohit Uberoi, president and CEO at MEGTECH Systems. The high cost of Li-ion batteries has made the prospect of reducing the cost of production quite attractive.
Industry Supplier of the Year -- Components was BASF. The company decided to use Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (NCM) cathode chemistry, which has applications in the automotive industry and consumer electronics.
Markus Holzle, general manager at BASF, said, “The advanced materials will contain up to 60 percent more energy, which will translate to a 50-percent-extended driving range.” The material will be more manganese than cobalt and nickel, which is good because manganese is pretty abundant and kind of cheap. The new plant will open in Ohio.
“With respect to the production of cathode materials in technical scale, BASF can use its experience with similar production processes that we already have installed in-house,” Holzle said.
The Ohio plant will be the biggest cathode materials production facility in the nation to make composite cathode material to fill the demand of the auto industry.
“The necessary developments in Li-ion batteries for vehicles, extended driving range, improved safety and lower costs, will come from the chemical industry,” Holzle said.
Battery Manufacturer of the Year -- Lead Acid was Panasonic. The company made batteries for wind turbine blade control. By 2013, the demand for wind power is expected to increase by 50 percent. The four new batteries have a pretty long life -- ranging from 5 to 10 years -- and are custom-made to support wind turbine performance.
Battery Manufacturer of the Year -- Alternative Chemistries was GP Batteries. The company developed Nickel Metal Hydride batteries for electric vehicles.
Other competing companies that were thought to be contenders for the awards included Recupyl Battery Solutions, Wildcat Discovery Technologies, NEI Corporation, Northstar Battery company, and Powergenix.
“It speaks highly [of the industry's prospects] that there are so many companies that are entering into the field. And some of them won the awards today,” Yeager said.